Everydayness and Rauschenberg in China’s Reform Era: "A Reading of Fine Arts In China"
Cultural Studies and Language Series - Spring 2022
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC | This talk discusses the everydayness in China’s Reform Era (1978-1989). In this transitional period, the lifting of cultural isolation allowed ordinary Chinese people to access the outside world, especially the West and Japan. This caused a domestic cultural fervor not only for high arts from the West, but also for popular culture and fashion. To a large extent, ordinary Chinese people’s quotidian involved the grand narratives about social reform. This talk shows how the avant-garde art newspaper, Fine Arts in China, represents the popular culture and the changes of people’s everydayness in the process in which China became actively and increasingly engaged in the capitalist world. In particular, through the case of the exhibitions of American postmodernist artist, Robert Rauschenberg, in Beijing and in Tibet at the end of 1985, as a part of his ROCI (Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange) project, my research demonstrates a fundamental differentiation in Rauschenberg’s and Chinese audience’s employment of everydayness. This leads us to penetrate a new meaning-making by Chinese audience of consumerism, capitalism, and (post)modernism in the reception of Rauschenberg.
Jingsheng Zhang is a scholar of contemporary Chinese literature and visual arts, with a special focus on Chinese avant-garde literature and art of the 1980s. She received a BA in religion from Fudan University (China), an MA in American Studies from Ruhr University at Bochum (Germany), and a Ph.D. of Comparative Literature from University of South Carolina. She taught in the English Department and the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at UofSC before joining Bennington College as a visiting faculty. Her research interests involve modern and contemporary Chinese literature and art, Sinophone Studies, Chinese American Studies, Memory Studies, and Urban Studies. Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary project which adopts a sociological approach to the examination of the societies and venues of avant-garde production. She is the author of Looking for Langston, Looking for Identity? (Intertext 2020). Her recent courses include Chinese Women and Women’s Writing in the 20th Century, TV Shows and the Contemporary Chinese Society, From April Fifth to June Fourth, World Literature, Academic Composition, Rhetoric, Film and Media Studies, and Social Advocacy and Ethical Life.